Ellen Helgeland Jewart ’79 was an avid skier who frequently spent winter weekends hitting the slopes of New England with her adult children. On a winter day in 2016, however, everything changed. 

A serious skiing accident shattered her knee in 10 places. After a bone infection, eight surgeries, and a full knee replacement, Jewart still walks with a foot brace and experiences ongoing complications related to the accident. 

“God stopped me in my tracks. I had a lot of time to think,” Jewart says. No longer able to sustain 60–70-hour work weeks and frequent travel as a financial advisor, Jewart took early medical retirement and looked for new opportunities. 

She had always wanted to write a book, so she enrolled at Worcester [Mass.] State University and graduated in May 2023 with a master’s degree in English, following a second bachelor’s degree in English. 

As a child, Jewart found school difficult. Undiagnosed attention deficit disorder and hearing loss in her right ear taught her to compensate for her disabilities at a young age. She graduated from high school at 16, attended community college for a year, and entered Calvin as a sophomore at 17. She majored in music and earned her education certification. No less determined to excel in her creative writing program at Worcester State, Jewart finished top in her class and carried the department flag at graduation. 

Today, Jewart is planning her first book—a criminal suspense novel with a female protagonist “who learns to stand on her own feet in a time of great crisis.” 

Though she’s excited to dive in, these days her greatest joy is caring for her grand- daughter four days a week. “She keeps us young,” Jewart says. Jewart’s accident changed her life, but it has not stopped her. “My body may not be doing the things that one would expect, but I don’t feel like 65 in my head. I still feel like my 30-something self who balanced four kids and a job,” she laughs. 

“Interestingly, the more I slow down the more I am drawn to a more devotional life with God. I’m more willing to set aside housework and take 30 minutes to put up my feet to take the swelling out, and I might use that time for worship or prayerful meditation.” 

Jewart recalls waiting to get wheeled into emergency surgery, when words she learned as a child ran through her head: “‘What is your only comfort in life and in death?’ ” she recites the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism. “‘That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.’ ” 

“Those words have really guided me over the years,” she says. Though life has thrown her many challenges, Jewart’s faith remains steadfast.